On the Road
Despite once being described as ‘inseparable brothers’ due to their historical, religious and ethnolinguistical connections, Afghanistan’s relations with Pakistan have since thawed. Memories of the Durand Line and the 1978 war in Afghanistan continue to linger, leaving the two countries at odds more often than not, with each side blaming the other for a number of trade, security, and foreign intervention problems. These same political issues have trickled down to each country's societies, further skewing perceptions and increasing distrust.
Lapis was tasked to develop a reality television and travel series to revive the commonalities that exist between the two nations, in order to build greater mutual understanding after years of conflict.
In order to address the multitude of challenges stated above, Lapis utilized one of its most popular educational entertainment platforms, ‘On the Road’ which first premiered in 2010. The first series of the travelogue followed the charismatic host, Mujeeb Arez, who travelled across Afghanistan’s many provinces looking at development projects through the lens of Afghan culture. This provided Afghans an opportunity to travel across their country virtually whilst also offering insights into some of their country’s most complex challenges.
Becoming one of Afghanistan’s most successful television formats, Lapis re-formulated the program to look beyond Afghanistan and consider its cross-border relationship with Pakistan. In this series, Mujeeb was joined by Pakistani host Wajahat Malik. The hosts travelled across the two countries visiting popular landmarks, UNESCO world heritage sites and national parks from Peshawar to Mazar-e-Sharif. Audiences discovered the landscape and culture of their neighbors and built an awareness of the many similarities they shared, as well as being encouraged to celebrate their differences. The shows laid the groundwork for the beginning of a dialogue that could bring the two countries and their populations closer together.
‘On the Road’ successfully engaged large audiences across several notable media platforms in both countries. In Pakistan, the show aired on one of the leading TV channels, ‘Pakistan Television’ (PTV) at prime time, whereas, in Afghanistan Lapis partnered with a leading general entertainment channel from the Moby Media Group, ‘TOLO TV’.
Reactions to the series were overwhelmingly positive. PTV’s rating system suggests the show received an average of 1.7 million viewers each week, with a total viewership of 17.7 million across the series. Post-broadcast, viewers took to social media requesting future episodes with additional locations. Viewership of the program continues to grow via YouTube, which to date, has been viewed over 45,000 times in total.